In Grand Central rezoning, city will compete to sell air rights

July 17, 2012 09:00AM

More details continue to emerge on the Bloomberg administration’s plan to rezone Midtown East and encourage new office development in the area. The New York Post explained the process developers must endure to unlock the increased floor-area-ratio, and therefore greater building heights, the city is permitting under the plan.

As previously reported, developers would be permitted to build to 24 FAR between Lexington and Madison avenues and 42nd and 46th streets, as of right, and to 18 FAR or 21.6 FAR along nearby swaths. While the “as of right” stipulation means they won’t have to go through the lengthy land-use review process, it does mean they’ll have to purchase each additional buildable square foot from the city. 

The cost won’t come cheap, according to the Department of City Planning, which said it would far exceed the $120 per foot Related paid at Hudson Yards. The money would go to a District Improvement Bonus fund that would pay for transit, public space and infrastructure upgrades nearby.

The Post noted that one alternative exists to procure air rights. Andrew Penson’s Argent Ventures owns approximately 1.5 million square feet of them in the area after it purchased the land below and above Grand Central Station in 2007. By 2017, when the new zoning rules take affect, the Post said Penson could be in competition with the city to sell air rights to Midtown East office developers. [Post]